Thursday, September 29, 2011

Books I'm Looking Forward To

Belle's Song by K.M. Grant (Quercus, Feb. 3, 2011)

Historical fiction + Chaucer mix

The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson (Margaret K. McElderry, Apr. 17, 2011)

I'm mostly interested in the blend of fantasy and Caribbean folklore that's advertised.

The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge (Delacorte, Feb. 14, 2011)

I very much enjoyed The Iron Thorn and can't wait to see what its sequel has in store!

Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson (Atheneum, 2012)

This appears to be one of the few sci-fi books I know of that have a Native American element to them.

The Mark of the Golden Dragon by L.A. Meyer (Harcourt, Oct. 3, 2011)

I have yet to read the last three (or four?) Bloody Jack books, but I still want this one. They are AMAZING and my county's library system is dumb for only having the first few.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel and Friends, Jan. 3, 2011)

Of course, a sci-fi retelling of a fairy tale is going to catch my interest.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (Random House, Nov. 8, 2011)

I've read the other three books, though the only thing I really remember about them is that I enjoyed reading them.

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (Random House, Oct. 25, 2011)

I love Pierce's series, though sometimes they can be hard to keep up with. I have read the first two Beka Cooper books, though.
A Million Suns by Beth Revis (Razorbill, Jan. 10, 2011)

I absolutely adored Revis' first novel, Across the Universe, so of course I can't wait to read the sequel! I sent in an ARC request form to the publisher, but no luck so far. :(

The Forgetting Curve by Angie Smibert (Marshall Cavendish, Apr. 2011)

Another dystopian sequel that I'm super-looking forward to!

And, of course, there's all of these dystopian sequels; for most of these, I own the first book but haven't read it yet: 

Outpost by Ann Aguirre (Feiwel and Friends, Sep. 2012)  
Crossed by Ally Condie (Dutton Juvenile, Nov. 1, 2011) 
The Death Cure by James Dashner (Delacorte, Oct. 11, 2011)  
Fever by Lauren DeStefano (Simon & Schuster, Feb. 21, 2011)
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (HarperTeen, Mar. 6, 2011)
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins, May 28, 2011)

If anyone has an ARC of any of these books, I might be open to an ARC swap...or I'll pay shipping...or something. I'm not to the selling-my-soul part yet, though.

What books are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top 100 YA Books (aka, I need a filler post)

  1. Alex Finn – Beastly
    Read and posted a review of it here. Thought it was too much like the Disney movie.
  2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
    I would read it if I had a copy.
  3. Ally Carter – Callagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
  4. Ally Condie – Matched
    I own a copy. I plan on reading it some day.
  5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals  (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
  7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
    I *think* I've read all but the last of the series. Series get old to me after about the fourth book.
  8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)
  9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
  10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
    Wait, there's NINE now?! See what I wrote about series under Heap...
  11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
  12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)
  13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    I think I've read all of this series. Maybe not the fifth book.
  14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
    I own and have read the first book...
  16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
  17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3, 4)
    Have the first, haven't read it. Yet.
  18. Christopher Paolini  - Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
  19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
  20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
  21. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3)
  22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
  23. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
    Another series I tired of. I only own the last book, but have yet to read it.
  24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
  25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
  26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
  27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
    I love Levine's retellings.
  28. Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
  29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)
  31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
    I gave up on this series. He should have stopped after the first three books, which were great.
  32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
  33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
  34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
  37. John Green – Looking for Alaska
  38. John Green – Papper Towns
  39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
  40. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
  41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
  42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
  43. Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
  44. Lemony Snicket -  Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
    I hated this series when I first tried reading them, so I only skimmed through the first three.
  45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
  46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
  47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  48. M.T. Anderson – Feed
  49. Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
    I just love the covers on these.
  50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)
  52. Markus Zusak  - The Book Thief
  53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
  54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  55. Mary Ting – Crossroads
  56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
    I absolutely loved the first book!
  57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
    Another pre-teen book I absolutely loved. Hated the sequel, though.
  58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
    Really, I just love Meg Cabot.
  60. Meg Rosoff – How I Live Now
  61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
    My brother and I both enjoyed these.
  63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
  64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    Tired of the vampire series, didn't read the last two.
  65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  66. Michael Grant – Gone  (1, 2, 3, 4)
  67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
  68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind
  69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline
  70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust
  71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
  72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 )
  73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
    OK, so I've really only read the first book. I have the omnibus edition, though!
  74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere Carnal Over 40 Winks
  79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
  80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
  81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
  82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
  83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
  84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  85. Scott Westerfeld  - Leviathan (1, 2)
  86. Scott Westerfeld  - Uglies (1, 2, 3)
    I just got the first two books.
  87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
  88. Shannon Hale – Princess Academy
  89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
  90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    This is one of my all-time favorite YA books.
  91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
  92. Stephanie Meyer – The Host
    I LOVE The Host. Even when I liked Twilight, I thought The Host was superior.
  93. Stephanie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
    I really liked the Twilight series when I read them. When I was in middle school. Before I realized that teens my age meeting sparkly vampires and falling madly in love was stupid.
  94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
  95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
    Won the entire series in a giveaway but haven't had time to read them yet.
  96. Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)
    Read and own the first book, but I didn't like it enough to go ahead and read the others.
  97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    Whoa, she has another series?!
  98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
  99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
  100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

    I've actually heard of most of these, even if I haven't read them. I should check out the ones I haven't heard of...

    Kudos to Rather Barefoot Than Bookless for finding the list.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

MG Historical Fiction: Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Date: November 2, 2011
Format: ARC
Acquired: from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book in return for an honest review.)
Pages: 262
Reading time: three days

Beryl Markham was one of the famous pilots of the golden age of aviation, even becoming the first pilot - male or female - to fly the East-to-West route across the Atlantic Ocean solo. Yet even before this amazing feat, Beryl led a remarkable life. Raised on a remote Kenyan ranch by her father, Beryl Markham grew up racing horses and living a life atypical for daughters of European settlers. She became best friends with a Nandi boy, Kibii, and grew up alongside him and his tribe, breaking both ethnic and gender barriers. This historical novel tells the story of Beryl's childhood.

Beryl Markham's early life makes for interesting reading, whatever your age. English colonialism, African tribal practices, horse racing, early aviation, boarding school drama, and more are all covered. My main complaint with this book, though, is that the only one of these that's really discussed in-depth is Nandi lifeways. I don't have a problem with lifeways forming the basis of the novel - the anthropologist in me absolutely loves it - but I think the author could have delved more deeply into the other aspects of Markham's childhood rather than just mentioning them more topically. MacColl based the majority of the book's details on Markham's own memoirs and in many ways what's covered in the novel is probably there because it is what's covered in Markham's writings, but part of historical fiction is taking a little creative license with the details that aren't all there. Otherwise, you end up with parts of a book that are fantastic in the history they tell and parts that seem like they're not fleshed-out enough. Even with this complaint, though, MacColl succeeds in keeping the history parts of the book exciting, and in this way Promise the Night is a good read for Middle Grade audiences who get very little African and colonial history in school. When I was that age, I would have devoured this book and never noticed everything I just said I didn't like.

Cover wars!
The picture at the top of this post is the cover from the ARC, so here's the cover for the finished copy. Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

YA Fiction: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Publisher: Poppy
Date: September 5, 2011
Format: ARC
Acquired: won from a blog giveaway
Read: because it's a retelling of Lysistrata
Pages: 273
Reading time: three days

Lissa is sick of the rivalry between the football and soccer teams at her school. It's lasted for years, kids are starting to get hurt, and it's interfering with her relationship with her quarterback boyfriend, Randy. So Lissa decides to do something about it. She and all the other athletes' girlfriends decide to withhold the one thing the boys can't get without them - sex. But they don't count on the boys-versus-girls showdown that ensues, running deeper than just a silly team rivalry, nor does Lissa expect the sexual tension that will crop up between her and the leader of the guys, Cash Sterling.

The first half of Shut Out was pretty mediocre. I enjoyed reading it, the pages went by fast, but the characters and plot seemed stereotypical for the most part. Sure, Lissa has some unexpected characterizations - rather than being a preppy cheerleader, she's a control-freak, OCD bibliophile - but Randy is the average dumb jock. I had problems seeing how their relationship lasted, much less why control-freak Lissa would consent to doing certain things with him. Well, mysteries began to be explained by the middle of the novel.

Several surprises came out of the text past about the mid-way point. The weirdness of Randy and Lissa's relationship came out, a new, less stereotypical guy entered the picture, and Keplinger added some new meaning to the book. Rather than be all about high school rivalries and sexual tension, the novel begins to explore gender relations and what's "normal" for teen sexual activity - no sex? Enjoying it? Participating but not enjoying it? In this way, Shut Out becomes a great novel for older teens who are wondering about sexuality and unsure about what feelings and drives are normal for their age.

Content: Despite being about a sex strike, there's no content that I considered explicit. Sexual situations and discussions are present, of course, but there's nothing my mother would be mad about me reading as an older (15/16+) teenager.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

In My Mailbox #11

I've had absolutely no time to read this week. Zip. Nada. The only books I've picked up are textbooks. Fortunately, I'd gotten a couple books read last weekend, so I was able to post reviews during the week and have another scheduled for Tuesday. Anyway, I'm hoping that once marching season ends in November, I'll have more free time. Until then, posting could be sparse. I've already forgotten to write this post about five times today. I might start doing IMMs every two weeks.

All of my IMM books this week were won in giveaways:
Secret Thoughts by Guy Hasson (thanks, Lavie over at the World SF Blog!)
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (thanks, Bookhounds - Forever YA!)
The Empire of Gut and Bone by M.T. Anderson (thanks, Teen Reads!)
Tales of Little Bear and Little Buffalo by Roy Naquin (thanks, Bless Their Hearts Mom!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blog Tour Review: Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite

Publisher: Gallery Books
Date: September 13, 2011
Format: paperback
Acquired: from Gallery and Pocket Blog Tours
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book in return for an honest review.)
Pages: 329
Reading time: three days

Back of the book: Nellie Clay married Hobbs Pritchard without even noticing he was a spell conjured into a man, a walking, talking ghost story. But her mama knew. She saw it in her tea leaves: death. Folks told Nellie to get off the mountain while she could, to go back home before it was too late. Hobbs wasn't nothing but trouble. He'd even killed a man. No telling what else. That mountain was haunted, and soon enough, Nellie would feel it too. One way or another, Hobbs would get what was coming to him. The ghosts would see to that...

My review: It's rare that a literary novel has me unable to put it down, but Ghost on Black Mountain had me staying up late reading. For once, all the quotes praising a book on its front cover are completely true and sum up the feelings of the story better than I can. The most amazing part of the book is how the five female voices that tell the novel in parts are so interwoven. They each add details to Nellie's story, details that are missing from others' narrations because of their different perspectives. Ghost on Black Mountain isn't just a tale of a single murder and haunting; the ghosts and mysteries of the mountain and the lives it touches are as multifaceted as the five narrators. I believe it takes a great deal of writing talent to be able to pull such a far-reaching and complex story together, and Hite not only manages to succeed in doing so, but also appears to do it with ease while having the folklore flavor of the Southern Appalachians shine through as well.

Dislikes? That Hite is a short story writer and is writing about some difficult subjects comes through occasionally in that I felt some characters' thoughts and behaviors at certain points could have been developed a bit more. All the improbabilities of the plot began to bother me a bit towards the end, and I could see parallels between this novel and the very melodramatic gothic novels of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Despite these slight issues, I still finished the novel feeling that, overall, it was quite masterfully written and one of my favorite reads this year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blog Tour Review: Wunderkind by Nikolai Grozni

Publisher: Free Press
Date: September 6, 2011
Format: hardback
Acquired: from Free Press Blog Tours
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book in return for an honest review.)
Pages: 290
Reading time: seven days

From GoodReads: Life in Sofia, Bulgaria, in the late 1980s is bleak and controlled. The oppressive Communist regime bears down on all aspects of people’s lives much like the granite sky overhead. In the crumbling old building that hosts the Sofia Music School for the Gifted, inflexible and unsentimental apparatchiks drill the students like soldiers—as if the music they are teaching did not have the power to set these young souls on fire. Fifteen-year-old Konstantin is a brash, brilliant pianist of exceptional sensitivity, struggling toward adulthood in a society where honest expression often comes at a terrible cost. Confined to the Music School for most of each day and a good part of the night, Konstantin exults in his small rebellions—smoking, drinking, and mocking Party pomp and cant at every opportunity. Intelligent and arrogant, funny and despairing, compassionate and cruel, he is driven simultaneously by a desire to be the best and an almost irresistible urge to fail. His isolation, buttressed by the grim conventions of a loveless society, prevents him from getting close to the mercurial violin virtuoso Irina, but also from understanding himself. Through it all, Konstantin plays the piano with inflamed passion: he is transported by unparalleled explorations of Chopin, Debussy, and Bach, even as he is cursed by his teachers’ numbing efforts at mind control. Each challenging piano piece takes on a life of its own, engendering exquisite new revelations. A refuge from a reality Konstantin detests, the piano is also what tethers him to it. Yet if he can only truly master this grandest of instruments—as well as his own self-destructive urges—it might just secure his passage out of this broken country.

My review: Wunderkind has so many aspects to it that make it a wonderful, engulfing read. Grozni has a way with words, and his writing is excellent. There's very few books that seriously impact me emotionally, but this was one of them. Sometimes after putting Wunderkind down for the night (and maybe it was just because I was reading late at night that I was so affected or because I'm still an angsty, stressed teenager), the whole loneliness and depression of the characters and setting made me feel like curling up in a ball. Even though I never noticed much plot to the novel, I never thought about this while reading. I was never bored, even though I was reading slower than usual! Grozni also writes about music in a way I've never before thought of it, a way I wish I could view it. Alas, I'm one of the mediocre musicians Konstantin so abhors. 

Wunderkind reads like a (literary) dystopian novel at times, and I've figured out from reading this that a lot of dystopian plots and aspects have probably come from Soviet influences. Like with Holocaust books, I would look at the date Konstantin is writing (1987-89) and wish I could tell the characters to hang on for only one more year or two, then everything would be over.

Unfortunately, the engulfing writing didn't stick with the novel for its entire length. The high emotions lasted for about half the book, then it just gradually ceased to be quite so special. Still, I rank Wunderkind with my other favorite teen bildungsromans - The Body of Christopher Creed, Going Bovine, and Jasper Jones - though its literary flavor sets it apart from these as does its realistic Soviet setting based on the author's own experiences.

p. 102 "I want music to tell me something true. I don't want fantasies and science fiction. And I don't care about fancy chords and the whole extravaganza of the grotesque. I don't get this obsession with newness. It's got to be new, fancy, weird, somehow broken and distorted, never thought of before." OK, so Grozni's really talking about music here, but this quote made me think about a lot of recent literature, namely the darker YA fantasy and dystopian/post-apocalyptic books of the past couple years.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

In My Mailbox #10

I had a good week this week. I'm starting to get settled into my classes and, due to lack of free time, have established 10-11 PM as my reading time. No homework, no practicing instruments, no social networking, just reading. Or sleeping if it's been a long day.

This week I finished Wunderkind by Nikolai Grozni and Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (yes, it was weird to read these back-to-back). Reviews to be posted later.

In my mailbox for review:
Burmese Refugees by T.F. Rhoden (LibraryThing Member Giveaways)
Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl (LibraryThing Early Reviewers)
Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite (Gallery/Pocket Books Tours)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (thanks, Book Stacks on Deck!)

The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland

I don't know where the heck it came from:
The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson

And...I got the rest of my textbooks for school! I really hate using the online ones, but when your school has to go through a long process just to order the necessary books....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Books My Brother Actually Liked

Take this post as a suggestion for some good teen guy books. My fifteen-year-old brother, Isaac, isn't a reluctant reader, but he allows computer games to take precedence over his reading habits. Over the summer, though, he managed to read several books. His typical reading practice is to either finish a book in one sitting, take a month, or abandon it as soon as it gets the least bit boring, and I am pleased to report that most of the books he picked up over our summer break he found exciting enough to read in a day.

Swords for Hire by Will Allen
Source: purchased used

I've been trying to get my brother to read this for years because it's one of my all-time favorite books. Isaac found it enjoyable and funny, but childish. Well, I *did* first read it in fourth grade. As there is a tiny bit of mature content in there, I'm now really not sure what age group it's intended for.

Flip by Martyn Bedford
Source: Random Buzzers

This is one of the few books Isaac read before I did. He even wrote a review of it for the blog here. He started it in the afternoon while we were on vacation and stayed up into the night to finish it.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Source: borrowed from friend

This was another start-in-evening, finish-at-midnight book. I think Isaac only picked up this one because he was bored, but he sure devoured it quickly enough! He agrees with my assessment that it's an exciting dystopia but needs more deeper meaning to it to be truly great.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Source: Holt InGroup

Basically the same as The Hunger Games. We were watching some Mad Max movies a couple nights ago and comparing the 1980s post-apocalyptic themes and scenarios to recent dystopias. I think I'll point Isaac towards Blood Red Road next.

Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
Source: library sale

This is the only other book on the list that Isaac read before I did. It took him about a month to finish, he claims because it's written for adults rather than a YA audience. Again with the comparisons to Mad Max...

I was surprised by the Wiccan aspects of the novel, but apparently they didn't bother Isaac.

Shade's Children by Garth Nix
Source: blog giveaway

Personally, I wasn't a huge fan of this one when I read it in seventh grade (I think I'd enjoy it more now), but Isaac liked reading it. He says it reminded him of Eoin Colfer's books, which we both read in middle school.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Source: Random Buzzers

Isaac and I agreed on this one, too: It. Was. Awesome. Totally weird and random and resembling The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but hilarious and well-written and like the author got inside a teenager's mind. I think the conclusion confused him, though, because he kept going around saying "The ending blew my mind, the ending blew my mind." My attempts at explanations didn't help much.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Source: publisher

If anything, I think my brother enjoyed this one even more than I did. He saw me reading it and actually couldn't wait for me to finish it so he could read it. I finished at about five in the evening, and he immediately picked it up and read it through in about five hours (I couldn't believe it). He loved all the '80s references to video games and music, two things that he is very much into.

Other books my brother has enjoyed recently: the Ender series by Orson Scott Card and Airman by Eoin Colfer.

What books do you recommend for teen guys?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mini-Reviews: Bloodhound, Jack Tales, Salvation City

These mini-reviews are all of books that I've read recently but, for whatever reason, don't want to write full reviews of.

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce (2009)
Beka Cooper #2 (a Tortall series)
I'd forgotten everything about the first book other than Beka's name, but I was soon drawn into Bloodhound. Great characters, great plot, great action, as always with Pierce's books. It got a bit long at times (it's 500+ pages, after all), but never unexciting or boring. The last 150 or so pages really picked up again and reminded me why I've loved Pierce's novels ever since I started reading them five years ago.

The Jack Tales by Richard Chase (1943; 1971)
The Jack Tales are a series of folk/tall tales from the Southern Appalachians. They come from English as well as continental European traditions, though this particular edition tells the stories in mountain dialect. Eighteen humorous and, at times, ridiculously exaggerated tales are collected in this book, which is written for both folklore and comparative literature students as well as readers just looking for a fun book. For a more complete review, see my mom and I's failed attempt at a dual blog here.

Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez (2010)
A post-apocalyptic book like no other: the sci-fi part's really just at the beginning - an epic flu pandemic - before the story settles into a (non-dystopian) bildungsroman in a fundamentalist Christian community. Odd, slow, but not unpleasant; I enjoyed reading it, but I only figured out where the author was trying to go (a coming-of-age tale) at the very end. It's well-written, which helps alleviate any of its negative attributes. A longer review is to come.

The Prehistory of North Carolina: An Archaeological Symposium (1983)
I haven't actually finished this one yet, mostly because I don't understand the anthropological jargon and it's kind of boring. It took me 30 pages before I could make heads or tails of anything, and now most stuff is going in one ear (eye) and out the other. This will be one I return to in sections, with more background knowledge, taking notes, once a couple years have passed after whenever I finally finish reading it the first time.

Friday, September 2, 2011

In My Mailbox #9: or, first vlog and epic box of books edition

You know what makes me really happy? When boxes of books the USPS site said are in Niagara Falls show up at my house in North Carolina. My books from arrived yesterday, and I was about to start skipping when I came back from a tough band practice to find the box!

You know what I don't like? Macbooks. My school just switched from Lenovo tablets to Macbooks, and it's messing up all of our Microsoft-run brains. Plus some sites (Book Depository!) are blocked even at home, and this morning I found that, though I don't go to school on Fridays, they can still block Facebook and Twitter during school hours. But...Macbooks have built-in cameras, so now I can make VLOGS!

There will probably not be a vlog with my IMM post every week, but this week's special and I can put all of my rambling about what books I received in the vlog instead of in little type underneath titles! Yay for better organization!

Don't quote me on any of the random things I said about books/dystopias/publishers.
The sequel to The Diary of Pelly D is Cherry Heaven, not Blossom.

If you don't want to watch the video, here's what came in my mailbox this week:

Divergent by Veronica Roth (thanks, She Known as Jess!)
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld (thanks, Bibliophile Anonymous!)
Juliet by Anne Fortier (thanks, Random House!)

Now for the epic box of awesomeness from
The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington
The Blue Star by Tony Earley
The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block
Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block
The Big Empty by J.B. Stephens
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati
The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer
The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
Children of the Dawnland by Kathleen O'Neal and W. Michael Gear
Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall
Tales from the Town of Widows by James Cañón
The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle
Exodus by Julie Bertagna
A Paradigm of Earth by Candas Jane Dorsey
Ophelia by Lisa Klein
Fordlandia by Greg Grandin

Short poll: Did you actually watch the vlog? Did you watch it all the way through, or just a little of it? Please answer in comments. :)